By Timothé & Stéphane
District Six is the name of the former district where black, white, asian and coloured people used to live in harmony. District Six was a vibrant centre with close links to the city and the port.
The South African government rapidly decided that these people were living too close to the whites who settled down in the city center. Therefore, the government implemented a project to relocate the residents. The first to be forced out were black South Africans who were displaced from the District.
The biggest decision was made on the 11th of February 1966 because District Six was declared a white area under the Group Areas Act of 1950, and by 1982, the life of the community was over. More than 60 000 people were forcibly removed to barren outlying areas aptly known as the Cape Flats.
In addition, these people who were not “white” and of European descent were to follow new laws: separate schools, respect forbidden places, or not to be in the company of white people. New passports were created to differentiate who was African, Malaysian, Asian and white. Violating these laws could lead to imprisonment. They have struggled for decades to bring back a more “egalitarian” system.
Today District Six, the symbol of segregation, tries to get back its unique, vibrant and multicultural atmosphere.
The area hosts one of the largest universities of Cape Town. The district offers many cafés and bars with various concepts, and trendy places where people can mingle and have a good time.
The tour of the neighbourhood aims to help you to get familiar with the different areas. We recommend you do this during your discovery off the beaten track of a Cape Town, seen and reviewed trails.
Begin the tour by Charly’s Bakery, 38 Canterbury Street, in a building covered in colourful graffiti walls and offset tones: it’s one of the most renowned pastries in Cape Town. You can enjoy their delicious cupcakes, cakes and many other pastries that will make your mouth water. It’s an excellent start to help you hit the ground running with a load of energy during your visit.
Go to the District Six Museum in order to know a little bit more about the history of this area and even the history of South Africa. The museum welcomes you in a modest building but the visit is well-made with many spaces, images that date back to history, different staging and even reconstruction of the interior of a typical house at the time. For even more interaction, visits can be made with a former resident of District Six. You will then capture the essence of this neighbourhood and its tragic fate. District Six has begun its rebirth. It is situated on 25 Buitenkant Street.
Head to the Book Lounge. It is a bookstore richly endowed with South African literature. It also has international books, available in the language of Shakespeare. Because of its old style and cozy interior, this place is ideal for relaxing on a sofa while you browse a good book on the ground floor or in the basement. The store’s managers will be happy to recommend books to suit your tastes. The Book Lounge is on 71 Roeland Street. Happy reading!
Ready for another culture adventure? The Fugard Theatre was created in 1839, making it the oldest theatre in Cape Town. Its name comes from Athol Fugard, who is the one of the most significant and internationally acclaimed playwrights. The most popular shows that Cape Town regularly produces are shows of international renown such as The Rocky Horror Show, Two Brothers or Romeo &Juliet. It is located on Harrington Street and Caledon Street.
District Six is still physically marked by vacant land; evidence of its destruction. However, a rehabilitation project is underway. It is called “Fringe” and it aims to give more life to the area that was once full of life. It also aims to aid in its integration, and its natural return to Cape Town.